Hello my lovelies. I’ve been considering taking a short blogging hiatus as I just don’t feel I have the mental energy for it right now, what with working, studying for two diplomas, and just generally trying to survive a global pandemic, you know? I’m still debating it. I’d like to get my April wrap-up posted for the sake of the completionist in me but we’ll see. Just wanted to start this post being totally honest with you all! I can barely keep up with my own blog right now and I’ve been horridly neglectful of YOUR blogs and I hate that. I can only apologise and hope that my mental energy will return at some point.
Anyway. I realised that I had totally forgotten to post my review of Cursed, an anthology of fairytale inspired short stories which was sent to me by the fantastic people at Titan Books! So, that’s what I’m bringing you today. As I usually do for anthologies, I’ll give you some brief thoughts on each story as well as a general feeling about the collection as a whole!
Fairy tales take a weird twist in this anthology compiling stories from an all-star cast of fantasy writers, including stories from Neil Gaiman, Charlie Jane Anders and Alison Littlewood.
Here in this book you’ll find unique twists on the fairy tale conceit of the curse, from the more traditional to the modern – giving us brand new mythologies as well as new approaches to well-loved fables. Some might shock you, some might make you laugh, but they will all impress you with their originality.
As Red As Blood, As White As Snow by Christina Henry
Kicking things off with one of my favourite authors! And she did not disappoint me. Christina Henry’s writing was fabulous as always and I loved the mix of elements within the story. It was a fantastic twist on well-known fairytales and had a very satisfying conclusion.
Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman
And another of my favourite authors! Can you see why I was so excited for this anthology? 😉 This was classic Gaiman with great scene setting and wonderful themes. The only problem was I wanted it to be longer!
At That Age by Catriona Ward
I liked this story more than the author’s contribution to the Wonderland anthology. It was very dark and ominous for the duration, but I enjoyed it!
Listen by Jen Williams
I loved this one! It had a fantastic concept and gorgeous writing, plus it was musically themed which you know is always a winner with me!
Henry and the Snakewood Box by M. R. Carey
This was an interesting story that gave me Good Omens vibes. I appreciated the humour but things didn’t quite feel fully developed.
Skin by James Brogden
Wow, this was DARK. It was an uncomfortable story to read at times, both thematically and due to some long clunky sentences. But it definitely packs a punch!
Faith and Fred by Maura McHugh
This one was very enjoyable. It felt well developed, like a proper story with a beginning, middle and end. Plus it was wonderfully Gothic!
The Black Fairy’s Curse by Karen Joy Fowler
The writing in this story felt a bit repetitive; a lot of the sentences felt the same length which made for a quite monotonous tone. However, the twist at the end was very interesting!
Wendy, Darling by Christopher Golden
Ok, what an amazing take on a well-known tale! This was both harrowing and unexpected.
Fairy Werewolf vs Vampire Zombie by Charlie Jane Anders
Unfortunately, this is my second experience of Anders’ writing and I don’t think it is for me. This story was just a bit too weird and I felt like it was trying way too hard to be cool.
Look Inside by Michael Marshall Smith
I kind of liked this one? But I found the end confusing. Not too sure what to make of it.
Little Red by Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple
This was another ambiguous story. I liked it but it should definitely have a trigger warning for self-harm so please take care if you decide to read.
New Wine by Angela Slatter
This was the only story in the anthology that I couldn’t finish. I just didn’t understand what was going on or what the point was. It felt dull and meandering. I will give a disclaimer though: I was in the middle of this story when the Covid-19 situation really took a downturn so my mental health may have had an impact on how I read this one.
Haza and Ghani by Lilith Saintcrow
This was an interesting take on the story of Hansel and Gretel. There was some gorgeous writing but it was another super dark story.
Hated by Christopher Fowler
Now, this one was fantastic. It was gripping from the outset and the plot progressed perfectly to a brilliant ending.
The Merrie Dancers by Alison Littlewood
This story was good but felt a little underdeveloped. I liked that it was ‘told’ in the way of traditional fairytales but I wanted more from it.
Again by Tim Lebbon
This was a bit gruesome at first but I settled into it and found it to actually be an interesting story that was quite poignant.
The Girl From Hell by Margo Lanagan
The final story in the anthology was a bit disappointing to end on. I didn’t really get it. The writing was too flowery for me (and you know that’s not something I say lightly because I normally love a bit of purple prose!)
The anthology, like Wonderland, was book-ended by two poems by author Jane Yolen, both of which were great.
Overall, this was a mixed bag, as all anthologies are. However, I feel like there were far more hits than misses in this collection! I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to fans of dark fairytales.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve read this one! x